‘Nova Crumbles Down the Stretch, Drops Overtime Battle to Creighton



‘Nova Crumbles Down the Stretch, Drops Overtime Battle to Creighton

Greg Welsh

The Villanova Wildcats suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss on Saturday as they were defeated 89-83 by the Creighton Bluejays at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha.

A prolonged offensive drought, which spanned from the late stages of the second half through the overtime period, doomed the Wildcats in the end, and has jeopardized their run of four consecutive BIG EAST regular season championships. Villanova will now need to win their last two regular season games, and hope for a loss from the Xavier Musketeers, in order to grab the BIG EAST title. 

The game started out with both teams hot from beyond the arc, as they each made four of their first five three-point attempts. Creighton guard, Khyri Thomas, started the game 4-4 from beyond the arc, and, on his fifth three of the half, put Creighton ahead 25-24.

The teams traded blows throughout the rest of the half with frequent lead changes occurring. Shortly after the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run to gain a 38-33 advantage with 2:19 to play in the half, Creighton’s star guard, Marcus Foster, hit a buzzer-beating three to trim the Wildcat’s lead to 40-38 at the intermission.

The game remained close in the second half, with Creighton front-running by a few points throughout most of the half’s early stages. Donte DiVincenzo eventually evened the score at 58 for Villanova by knocking down a three, and, after a couple of free throws by Omari Spellman, the ‘Cats were back in front, 60-58, with 8:32 to go.

As it came down to crunch time, the Wildcats unsurprisingly put the ball in the hands of their star point guard, Jalen Brunson, who scored the team’s next eight points, giving ‘Nova a 68-60 advantage with just 4:32 to play.

The lead, however, would not be safe. After a Creighton timeout, Villanova’s offense went stagnant, allowing the Bluejays to go on a 9-0 and retake the lead.  The Wildcats were unable to score for 3:40 in total, until Brunson converted an and-one to vault the ‘Cats back in front, 71-69. 

Creighton answered quickly with a three-pointer from freshman guard, Mitch Ballock, to grab the lead at 72-71. After a missed three by Mikal Bridges, Villanova was forced to foul Thomas, who proceeded to miss the front end of a one-and-one. DiVincenzo got the rebound, and was mistakenly fouled by Foster. However, DiVincenzo was only able to convert one of the two foul shots, knotting the game at 72.

With nine seconds still remaining, Foster drove hard to the lane looking for the game-winner, but was instead rejected by Bridges, sending the game into overtime.

After the teams traded baskets on the extra period’s first two possessions, Creighton began to take over, taking an 81-76 lead with 1:22 to play. When an intentional foul was called on Phil Booth just a few seconds later, the game was sealed once and for all, with Creighton taking home the victory.

With the loss, Villanova drops to 25-4 overall and 12-4 in the BIG EAST. They return to action on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. against Seton Hall.